BY CITY COUNCILMEMBER DAN HALLORAN
It has never been easy to run a business in New York City, one of the most taxed and regulated places on the face of the earth. Here in Queens, where small business is the backbone of the economy, this is going to be, to put it mildly, a challenging year.
Payroll taxes have taken a bite out of paychecks and business checkbooks. The cost of Obamacare is kicking in and federal tax rates hit us harder, because it costs more to survive here, whether you’re trying to run a food cart or a factory.
Customers have less to spend and business taxes, expenses and insurance costs keep going up, along with the cost of compliance with every rule and code, no matter how high-handedly administered.
Job creators deserve tax breaks because job opportunities are critical to the future of our borough. A tax deduction for each employee would help small businesses and create more jobs. But you have to be making a profit for a tax break to be meaningful. Too many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. They aren’t hiring.
If they continue to be overtaxed and over-regulated, some businesses with good jobs will leave and others will open shop somewhere less expensive than New York City. Some will close and more will struggle to keep the doors open, leading to even fewer jobs and a more depressed economy.
But for every trickle-down tax break, the government makes a full-scale effort to legislate good jobs, frequently at the urging of people who never made a job that wasn’t paid for by taxpayers or contributors.
Legislation setting a “living wage” and mandating paid sick leave may have been motivated by compassion, but whatever benefits will come at the cost of more than just jobs. We need to take a hard look at that cost because there’s nothing compassionate about more joblessness or small businesses closing their doors for good.
Our small businesses are not ATMs for the government, but the engines that drive our economy. Ask a business owner in Queens and they’ll tell you that they want their business to grow. But you also hear business owners tell you that they aren’t being heard or helped by government as much as tormented and taxed.
We need jobs and it doesn’t make sense to cripple our small businesses with burdensome regulation, punitive enforcement and staggering fines. If a minor violation is discovered by an agency inspector, a reasonable amount of time should be given for the owner to cure the violation, especially if there is no danger to the public or the employees. These fines on small businesses are shortsighted sources of revenue for the government, money that would be better be spent creating better jobs.
What can the small business owner do, besides pay and pay? You can join local business associations like the Queens Chamber of Commerce, where you can get help from people who have been in business and add your voice to theirs in bringing your concerns to the government. You can get in touch with your elected officials and tell them how the laws and rules and taxes and fines are working out.
We’re fighting to make Queens a center of commerce and help build prosperity for ourselves and for future generations. We’re the gateway to the Capital of the World, where people come to seek a better life.
To do those things and help those people, we need jobs. We need to help business do it because the government can’t make enough jobs on its own, even in New York City where we have the federal, state and city government trying. Our small businesses are a big part of the answer and it’s time for the government to stop adding to the problem of creating good jobs.
Every business owner knows that if you overcharge and underserve, you fail. We need government to get that same message when it comes to promoting business growth – and job creation. So far, it hasn’t heard it.
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